Archive for December, 2006

It’s a Wonderful Grand Rapids Life…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, December 18, 2006

George Heartwell, the mayor of Grand Rapids, is the namesake for Heartwell Mortgage, a local mortgage lender, which is essentially what used to be a savings & loan. George Heartwell, Heartwell Mortgage; George Bailey, Bailey Savings & Loan. So there was my Christmas theme; I just needed to come up with the comic.

Mayor Heartwell is kind of an activist, progressive sort. Now you can take that as a positive or negative, but you could easily say that it’s very George Bailey-ish: You know, he tends to look out for the little guy.

When Michigan’s ballot Proposal 2 passed in November (the ban on taking race or gender into consideration for public jobs or admittance into public colleges), Mayor Heartwell said he was going to fight it. He then got all sorts of nasty-grams telling him that he did not understand that we live in a democracy, that the majority rule, the majority has spoken, and that was the end of the story for ever and ever.

That’s all wrong, of course. We live in a constitutional republic, not a democracy. Look it up. And the system is both awesome and annoying in that you can challenge what you think is wrong even if a majority had decided it. Case in point, Proposal 2 overturned a majority decision of the United State Supreme Court to allow the race and gender consideration.

I think the real issue with what Mayor Heartwell did was to propose using Grand Rapids city money to fight the decision. For a typically cash-strapped city, spending taxpayer money on lawyers just doesn’t seem like a great idea.

No clever wrap-up. Just this final thought: If I were rich like Mr. Potter, I would get a toady to push me around in a wheelchair. Not all the time. Just once in a while. Because, honestly, who doesn’t want their very own toady?

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Pledging the Cabela’s Fraternity…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, December 11, 2006

As a 16 year-old I went to see “Animal House” with my friends at a drive-in theater. I was underage for an R-rated movie but my parents had given their reluctant consent. (A belated thanks, Mom & Dad! Yeah, there were some things there that I probably should not have seen; but then again, nothing any worse than what I saw on Saginaw Street on the morning school bus ride through Flint.)

But seeing “Animal House” was educational in that it sold me on the idea of never joining a fraternity. Mostly it was the pledging concept. Why would I take abuse from guys I don’t even know so that I could earn the right to hang out with them? Then what happens if it turns out they are all jerks? It just seemed like a counter-intuitive way to make friends.

Much in the same way, Cabela’s (a retailer of hunting, fishing, camping, outdoorsy stuff) has proposed building a local store in a counter-intuitive way: Give us $15 million or we’ll look elsewhere. Now, to be fair, a Cabela’s is more than just a store. It’s something of a theme park for outdoor sports enthusiasts. They currently have a store in southeast Michigan that attracts millions of visitors a year. But as more of these Cabela’s get built, they are sure to become less and less special. Hunting and fishing are extremely popular in Michigan, but with increased urbanization they are definitely not growth industries. And what about the current outdoor sports stores that would likely be driven out of business?

So as a Michigan taxpayer, I’m thinkin’, “Why do I need to take this abuse to make a retailing friend?” And for $15 million, at the very least I’d expect a decent toga party….

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Holiday Greetings!

A very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year from me and my family:


Popular Apologies That Don’t Work in the Business World…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, December 4, 2006

I’m sorry. I apologize if you found anything to be offensive in this week’s comic. I never intended for you to misinterpret my sincere efforts to inform and entertain you. I just want to make clear that any negative reactions on your part were totally unanticipated and that I had the very best of intentions, so if I’m guilty of giving 110% and falling short of that goal, then I have nobody to blame except the medication that I may or may not have been under the influence of during the creative process. It is times like these that I’m proud to have my family standing with me, supporting me, and perhaps whispering the very ideas you found offensive in my ear while I sleep. I don’t want to point any fingers, but I do have cats that scratch and bite me at times, and it’s very, very painful. (Please give me a moment while I compose myself.) When I return from rehab I hope to begin the healing process by giving you enough time for you to forget what it was that I did or did not do at the time in which we found out that Britney Spears is getting a divorce. Can you believe that? You should probably read more about that. Anyway, the terrorists are winning and you only have yourselves and your heterosexual lifestyles to blame. Strong words, yes, but I am not afraid to admit failure on your part.

But mostly I believe deep in my heart my gut tells me I’m right and you have to listen to your gut no matter what because weak people who are easily offended by comics don’t listen to their guts ever. Their guts are wrong but should be listened to. I’m no bigot about guts. No matter how disgusting and inferior yours might be, you must listen to them. Mistakes were made. That’s right, mistakes were made. But we must work together to sweep these away to make room for the new mistakes. Otherwise there will be a big pile of mistakes, and I won’t be able to do and say whatever I want to do or say whenever I want to do or say it without responsibility or consequences. And that’s un-American. You should be ashamed you even thought of that. And if I unintentionally aided you somehow toward these traitorous ends, well, for that I am sorry. I forgive you.


Choking on Technology…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, November 27, 2006

This week, just a general comment on modern business life: Technology that is supposed to free us often turns into more of a restraining device. But I’m guessing y’all already knew that….


Jef Mallett on Bob and Tom Show…

News Bulletin:
Frazz creator Jef Mallett will appear on the nationally syndicated morning radio program, The Bob and Tom Show, Tuesday, December 5th. The show runs from 6-10 a.m. and boasts 5 million listeners.

Jef designed the cover for The Bob and Tom Show’s latest CD, “Manboobs,” a compilation of songs and sketches, and he did the same for their “Operation Radio” CD, which he designed free of charge since the collection was issued through the USO for American soldiers overseas.

Below is a link to the show’s affiliates, so please tune in!


Never Make a Mistake Around Your Children…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Family magazine, November 2006